Gen X Gets Political

As the 2012 United States Presidential Election season winds down, it occurred to me that in all the blustering and posturing that we have been subjected to, once again Generation X has been roundly ignored. I know we’re not as big as the Boomers and Millennials. I understand that apparently we’re complete failures in the procreation department and not old enough to have our opinions on Medicare and Social Security matter even while we work extremely hard to fill its coffers with little hope of there being much left for us when we reach our late sixties. Our concerns and issues are real but we’ve been relegated to Whiny Middle Child status, complete with condescending head-pats and frequent trips to the time-out corner.

Consider this: Barack Obama is barely a baby boomer yet if you examine his speeches, ads, and sound bites, he and his campaign advisors are squarely aligned with that camp. Despite the fact that during his previous Presidential campaign, he was swept to victory in large part based on the energy, enthusiasm, and support of Generation X and Millennial voters, it seems like this time around the courting is cursory at best: “Sure, get out the vote, go door to door, rally the troops, etc., but when it comes to actually spelling out my plans for you or actively discussing the issues that directly impact your lives in national forums? Later for all that. I’ve got Boomers to chase.”

As Obama squares off against Governor Mitt Romney to retain what is arguably the best and the worst job in the world, he’s dealing with a different kind of Boomer, one that isn’t associated with the typical 1960s coming-of-age cultural touchstones. Romney spent the years of flower power and sexual revolution performing Mormon missionary work (which exempted him from military service in Vietnam) and living an admittedly secluded, conservative family life on the Harvard University campus. Romney, as expected, plays this to his advantage. He seems to be saying, “Yes, I’m of that generation but I’m not of that generation. Therefore, you can trust me. I don’t have to say ‘I didn’t inhale’ because I don’t even know what that stuff looks like.” Still, he doesn’t have much to say when it comes to the children of that generation, although he did throw us a bone by nominating Senator Paul Ryan as his running mate.

Nobody seems interested in actively acknowledging it, but Gen Xers are all over the 2012 U.S. Presidential Race: Senator Marco Rubio, Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker, San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julián Castro, Texas State Representative Joaquin Castro, Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, and Senator Kelly Ayotte are but a few of the “slacker” generation representing all points on the political spectrum.

Since there’s just about two weeks to go and (according to some polls), it’s a dead heat between the Democratic and Republican candidates, there’s not much hope that any messaging will be tailored to my generation. But one thing is certain: if we fail to show up on Election Day, our concerns will never be addressed. So please vote!


With #DrawArt on an iPad I drew:

Reclining Odalisque (Harmony in Red), 1927
Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954)
Oil on canvas
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

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